Lynne Turner’s three plus decades work as a Beverly Hills, California based psychotherapist equips her, as few others, to write her debut novel Group. This brief mystery novella, running a little over 100 pages in paperback form, is a taut and compressed narrative driven by compelling plot twists and well-drawn characters. Turner has an overall artistic sensibility, she’s a street photographer as well, discernible throughout her creative work and this novella is no exception. She calls upon both her experience as a therapist and as a human being in the world – her East Coast upbringing and years in the Golden State contribute to rich understanding of human motivations.


It is not a roman de clef, however. Anyone looking for Turner to mine the dirt of thinly veiled celebrity clientele will be disappointed. Ethical concerns notwithstanding, Turner’s aforementioned artistic sensibility would never allow it. She introduces the novel’s protagonist Dr. William Osgood on a vulnerable note encapsulating his recent divorce. The opening of the book, especially so considering its Los Angeles setting, pleasantly reminded me of a Raymond Chandler novel with Osgood as the intelligent, wry outsider yet sensitive observer. Or, in this case, listener.

The structure of the novella is one of its chief strength. Group, despite adopting an episodic style, possesses straightforward narrative coherence coupled with a more varied point of view. Turner, despite taking us “behind the scenes” of Osgood’s interactions with a variety of group members, says much more about her central figure than any of the secondary characters. Osgood is the unquestioned center and readers enjoy an unusually round depiction of character.

The dialogue rings with conviction. Ideal dialogue advances plot and character; authors who adopt a more ornamental approach invariably provide lesser reading experiences. She captures the idiosyncrasies of individual voices without ever overdoing it and creates deftly sketched personalities for each group member.

First time fiction authors often betray lapses. Some common flaws are tentativeness or burdening their efforts with length a relatively flimsy story cannot bear. Turner’s writing is free from any such defects, however, as her confident prose throughout Group propels a lean and focused story towards a credible conclusion. She leaves nothing notable unresolved.


It is safe to assume Turner has ambitions of making Osgood a series character. The potential is undeniable. She has enormous flexibility, as well, to shape any new entries with this character however she likes – it can take the same ensemble tack or zero in on Osgood alone. Many readers will likely want some the former or some combination of the two thanks to the stellar performance here. This is an auspicious first book, all important towards building an ongoing career as an author, and it is no stretch to say many will eagerly anticipate Turner’s follow-up to Group. It revamps a proven archetype and genre with vibrant writing and fully realized flesh and blood characters. There is a filmic aspect to Group as well – it would not be surprising to read someone has an option on the work and plans developing into a television series or film.

Jason Hillenburg